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Digital Planning checklists
October 27, 2008, 5:30 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy
Here’s a synopsis of his thinking about “How to do digital planning” (his post is full of CrackUnit-y goodness and you should give it a read):
  1. Be good at cutting and pasting
  2. Be able to deconstruct the craft
  3. Be able to expand (and contract) to fill the space available
  4. Be a good, and patient, educator
  5. Be cyber-optimist and a hyper-cynic
  6. Use the forces of geekdom
  7. Don’t hate business, it’s your friend
  8. Do things, make stuff
  9. Be Non-Stick and Wipe-Kleen
  10. Love what you do
I love a list. I particularly love this one. And it’s got me thinking- what would my advice be? I agree with all of the above- what else can i add?
So here’s my crack:
  1. Be humble.
    1. Good on you if you are omniscient- well done. For the rest of us mere mortals the more you learn the more you realise that digital is an ever expanding medium, and you just can’t keep up with it all. Once you get on top of this fact , you might realise that you’re not alone- we’re all stupid when it comes to the internet.
  2. Ask lots of questions
    1. Lots. Ask your clients. Creatives. The HTML team. Your peers. Your neighbour’s kids. Everyone has a piece of the puzzle.
  3. Really understand that you are not your audience. Really.
    1. No, you are not a single mum with two kids, a Grey Nomad sea-changer and a time poor operations manager on the lookout for enterprise solutions. Ask: ‘what, specifically, do different people do?. What do they get out of their digital experiences?” How could you make that experience better?
  4. Be a slut for information.
    1. Read. Read. Read. Read. Read. Go to as many industry events as you can. Join a coffee morning, or start one of your own.
  5. Share.
  6. Be concise. Be expansive.
    1. Be able to tell the same story in 30 seconds, 3 minutes and half an hour. Without notes.
  7. Be inquisitive.
    1. Have random adventures. Tyre-click. Enlist. Join communities. Contribute. Play all kinds of games. Ask yourself: “What’s this all about?”
  8. Make maps
    1. How can you describe regular daily digital journeys? How about a tribe’s ecosystem? How about how a joke spreads across a tight knit group of friends as they sit at their desks? Or how a mortgage or a dining chair or a holiday is purchased?  What’s value exchange- how is it created? Practice visual thinking.
  9. Be kind.
    1. People don’t know what you know, and punching them in the face won’t get them on your side. Give back. Mentor. I often don’t really know what I think about something until I try and explain it to someone else. Accept all offers to teach. It’s terrifying- but it’s better for you to be terrified than have others too scared to approach you. Then your ideas go nowhere.
  10. Have vision.
    1. Make predictions. Call trends. Extrapolate. Put a stake in the ground, a line in the sand. Shift it often. What are the differences between probable, possible and preferable futures? How are they different? Have a position: what does it takes to make stuff great.

Rightio- what do you reckon? What’s missing?

16 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Know the basics – I think Iain covered this. But it is true and needs to be reinforced. You don’t need to be a techie, but you need to know how some of the tech bits fall into place to achieve the outcomes you want.

Lead and follow – Lead where you can or when you see the need, or get in line and help others build a following.

Comment by Gavin Heaton

Make sure you understand your clients overall business objectives and be diligent at being across and participating in the overall comms mix.

Biggest mistake digital planners/strat people make is viewing the medium and it’s possibilities in isolation.

In terms of ‘Be inquisitive” – absolutely … but not just about digital.

Comment by Ben

@Gav I love “know the basics”- and I think this relates to the experiences as much as the technology. You’ve got to know the difference between IM and Twitter as much as Flash vs HTML. Perhaps more so.

@Ben Couldn’t agree more about the ‘don’t see digital in isolation’ thing. People don’t see channels; they don’t differentiate above, below or upside the line. I’d have to say that a lot of digital planners have to be transmedia educated as we’re the only ones who have HAD to integrate- and have had to argue not only the role of our own channel, but how people move across channels and how they amplify each other.

Comment by katiechatfield

Oh and here’s a lovely list for general inquisitiveness and general planner-y stimulus

Comment by katiechatfield

Number one is my fave, so many people think they know what’s happening today & tomorrow… when it can’t possibly fit in one persons head. Impossible.

Comment by pablojeffress

A fine list, with nothing to add per se. But I especially like your #5 – share – which you’ve done so beautifully with this post.

Comment by zebrabites

Good list on both accounts. All counts for nothing if you dont have good intuition or common sense.

These list pretty much work for anyone in our industry whether they be a designer or a managing director. They should al have these skills

Comment by Ashley

Be the best listener in the room: make it your mission to hear everything everyone says; and listen well enough to completely understand it all.

and i love “Be cyber-optimist and a hyper-cynic.” that one’s going into rotation in my lexicon of business wisdom.

Comment by Mike Arauz

I think this is a great list Katie. I guess I haven’t got so much to add as to reinforce the ‘understand’ point.

Something I just posted about is that the barriers to digital adoption might rationally make no sense, from a psychological point of view they are completely understandable.

Comment by Dirk Singer

Great listage. I would add one item and one thought.

The item…

Know what question(s) you are trying to answer.

Because great planning is about asking the right question(s), filling in the blanks, and figuring out what you don’t know (but would be empowered by if you did).

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t feel free to take curious detours on the journey. Just that you should know where you’re trying to get.

Otherwise, planning can quickly become a time-consuming and self-indulgent intellectual exercise that adds little to the strategic and creative process that has to follow.

The thought…

Malcolm Gladwell in Blink makes an interesting case for the dangers of writing too much stuff down. He talks about how quickly we shut down the brilliant, intuitive side of our brains once we try to verbalise our thinking.

I don’t know how to respond to that challenge (as I am a big writer myself), but I guess it’s a good cue to know you should follow your instincts and your gut, even when you don’t immediately have the words to explain why.

Comment by matt jones

What makes a great planner? …

I’m currently interviewing for new planners. Which has got me thinking about what makes a great planner. And what’s the real difference between strategic, channel, and digital planners? Or between analytical and conceptual planners? Or, to put it sim…

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Great list – some additional thoughts:

Be Prepared to say No!. Clients might want that viral campaign, or online community but does the subject matter have great ‘talkability’- will it get traction? is it relevant? interesting?

Metrics – ensure you know what you are measuring and get those tools in place from the beginning.


Comment by Jenni Beattie

Be prepared to organise the action plan and lead people in the right direction with the detail. This is usually where great planning falls down – make sure your clients understand the vision and have bought into it – only then will the end product work.

Comment by Tereza

thanks for the list and ideas

Comment by inspiredworlds

Highly energetic article, I loved that bit.
Will there be a part 2?

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